In truth, every single day.
Take now for example.
My daughter said I should write something for the blog. It seems I have focused too much on the daily missive and not enough effort has been directed into pulling something useful together for the website.
So what do I do? I can’t for the life of me think of anything that will add to any great canon of knowledge, offer any great wisdom, insight, or even mildly entertain, for more than the briefest moment in time (See what I mean? Already I have stooped so low as to steal part of the title of a great, if largely undecipherable book for the lay person, just for the sake of making a mildly amusing point.).
Fraudulent, don’t you think?
I have gone through life with the general belief that whatever I did, whether scraping a barrel or sitting on top of the world, I was doing it under false pretenses. Somehow I had managed to stumble over an undeserved opportunity, or gate-crash somebody else’s party.
Of course that could just be seen as a deeply disingenuous comment and a cynical attempt to illicit sympathy. Believe me there is still a part of me that remains undecided on that score.
Am I that shallow, callous and indifferent?
It is a truth to say I enjoy praise. Who doesn't? But really, I ask myself, praise for what?
Generally things I have set my mind on have come quite easily. Should that bring praise?
Or should praise come only to those who beat the odds, overcome great obstacles and succeed in spades in spite of these.
A truth I am most familiar with is the one perpetuated by an internal, continually nagging, openly hostile voice that plugs away, deep in my psyche. It fights for house room with free flowing anxiety and a generic guilt, about what I still don’t know, that has accompanied most of my waking days, for as long as I can remember.
No matter what I do, or what, if anything, I may have achieved the voice chips away at my confidence. It belittles my efforts and undermines any sense of satisfaction I may feel about a job that on balance, may be well done.
I criticise my efforts and constantly downplay any skill I may possess. This might be seen as humble, or keep me firmly rooted in reality. But the voice also punches me with the belief that what I really want by being so self deprecating, is for somebody else to bolster my ego by refuting these claims and praising me on high.
However, even as I conduct my own internal deconstruction of any comparative success another voice vies for attention. This voice, still not one I wholly trust and not nearly as loud as the openly self critical voice, insists I have worked hard for what I have, things have not come as easily as I pretend and when I say ‘...If I can do it, anybody can...’ I am doing myself a disservice.
I am in a pickle. What can I believe?
Part of this can be explained by the fact that as a child I was an early reader, before five years old and primary school was so boring I misbehaved. School did not interest me at all, football did, climbing trees did, reading James Bond novels, rather than ‘The Famous Five’ did.
I was in trouble quite a lot, not big trouble, nothing illegal, although I was accused of stealing a school ruler once and was so affronted I brought a young teacher, probably in her early twenties, although at aged ten, she seemed aged, to tears, with the rough edge of, my too clever by half, tongue and walked out.
My dad was called to the headmaster’s office and he was incandescent, even more so when he was told they had caught the culprit, somebody else, not me. I was still grounded for a month, for the walking out.
Anyway, this lack of school enthusiasm resulted in a flunking of the 11 plus exam and on transitioning straight across the schoolyard and into the Secondary school (my brother had gone to Grammar school) I was placed in the remedial class.
This came as a shock. In this class, fifteen year old boys were still on Janet and John books and could barely count. I was mortified.
The educators thought I was in need of ‘special’ education, meaning no education.
It certainly sparked my dander and moulded my conscience. There was nothing for it. I had no choice but to prove them wrong. Within the year, after finishing top of the form, by a record margin, not too difficult under the circumstances, I was transferred to the ‘A’ stream. Within a year I was top of this class and in my final two years was head boy.
You might think this experience would leave me with a feeling of pride and self-belief, but the shame of being placed in the ‘B’ stream, written off and thought to be beyond hope, lingers and continues to beg my attention. It sits alongside the voice that whispers its destructive doubts and means I never feel I comfortably belong, anywhere.
Something will go wrong. I will be found out, wanting and cast down, back into the abyss and shadow land of failure.
So what can I usefully write about? Not a lot. Sorry.
But there you have what came to mind, for good or ill. I hope you like it.